I apologize for my delay in posting this week’s article but illness, combined with the Christmas season, kept me away from the office. Nevertheless, on Boxing Day, I have punched setbacks in the mouth, if you’ll pardon the pun, but metaphorically, this seems to be what the Denver Broncos have done all season.
Anyway, the Broncos, headed into Week 17′s game at Oakland, Calif. against the Raiders, can clinch the #1 overall seed in the AFC playoffs, and the home-field advantage that comes with it, with a win or a New England Patriots loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Incidentally, if the Cincinnati Bengals defeat Baltimore Sunday and the Patriots lose to the Bills, Cincinnati rises to the #2 seed in the AFC because of a win they had over New England early in the season.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning, as you may have heard by now, is the current all-time leader in touchdown passes in a season with 51 and can add to his legacy in 2013 against Oakland while he is only 255 yards short of surpassing current New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees’ mark of 5,476 passing yards set in 2011.
This is highly attainable based on last week’s performance at Houston as against the Texans, Manning had 296 passing yards in the first half alone, so more history could easily transpire at Oakland Sunday afternoon.
Incidentally, Brees averaged 342.5 passing yards per game in 2011, and Manning is ahead of that pace at 347.4 yards per contest in 2013.
Nevertheless, there are other Broncos standouts throughout 2013 that receive recognition, chief among them is Denver’s second-most important offensive player, tailback Knowshon Moreno.
After his heroics at Houston Sunday, Moreno exceeded 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career, having posted 1,015 yards overall on the season on the ground to go along with 1,522 yards from scrimmage, also a career-best, averaging 101.5 yards from scrimmage per contest.
While head coach John Fox has often been lambasted by posters on the Broncos’ SB Nation site, Mile High Report, for being inferior in X’s and O’s stratagem, there is no question that he is an excellent motivator as in 2012, when Moreno was having troubles with turning the ball over, he was relegated to practice squad reps and has now arisen from the morass.
That is an apt metaphor for the Broncos this season, “rising above the morass,” as despite many debilitating injuries, including a torn ACL for star linebacker Von Miller, there is no reason to suggest that Denver cannot arise from this latest adversity as they heretofore have.
The common refrain on Twitter and Mile High Report, as well as Broncos’ flagship radio station AM-850 KOA, remains that Peyton Manning holds this team together and this seems to be more true at this stage than it ever has throughout 2013.
What has been lost as well, throughout Miller’s early season suspension and current injury, is that a duo of Broncos defenders, linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive end Malik Jackson, have arisen to the occasion.
Trevathan, in only his second season, has three forced fumbles, three interceptions, 10 passes defended and two sacks, one of which on Houston’s Matt Schaub was instrumental in changing momentum in Sunday’s game.
Meanwhile, Jackson has more sacks (5) than games he has started (4) so if nothing else, he maximizes his opportunities.
In closing, the Broncos control their own fate and have the memories of last season’s disappointment fresh upon their minds so this is the moment everyone who bleeds orange and blue has been waiting for.
The NFL postseason is always a compelling narrative and I await, with rapt anticipation, who the key protagonists and adversaries shall be.